Oregon just announced that its “opt out” automatic voter registration system significantly boosted voter turnout in an election that saw below average voting most everywhere else. Coincidentally, Hillary Clinton walloped Donald in Oregon by 10 points.
It’s a political law that higher voter participation is bad for Republicans. This is the specific purpose behind the wave of Voter ID laws that just happen to target Democratic voters the most. But even with their systemic voter suppression, Republicans still just barely squeaked out an Electoral College win against Clinton. And that was also with Russia, Wikileaks, the FBI and the “liberal” press doing everything they could to make her lose. Republicans know this.
Less than 100,000 votes in the other direction and we would be talking about how the changing demographics of the country have doomed the Republican Party. Instead, we’re supposed to be talking about how the Democrats need to reject minorities and cater to white people again. But nothing has changed. The Electoral College map is still the same and the demographics are still shifting rapidly away from the Republicans. In less than 20 years, most of the reliably conservative (and white) Baby Boomers will be dead, replaced by the far more diverse and far less intolerant Millennials. Republicans know this.
It will be nigh impossible to convince Millennials who came of age during the Great Recession that corporations and the 1% are the good guys. They watched corporate greed destroy the lives of millions and watched the rich get even richer from the destruction. Republicans will also be unable to convince them that they should vote Republican because Jesus hates abortion and brown people but loves guns. The usual wedge issues will have lost their potency. Republicans know this.
The only move left to them has been rigging the election through extreme gerrymandering and massive voter suppression. Now that they control the entire government, the next step is to implement Voter ID laws on a federal level, forcing even Democratically controlled states to adopt a law that will reduce the number of eligible voters by millions.
Republicans will, as always, use their racist dog whistles about “voter fraud” and undocumented immigrants and Trump will just flat out say it. Neither will have a shred of proof. But that won’t matter as they ram it through Congress ahead of the 2018 election. They know for a fact that there is no such thing as widespread voter fraud but they need the fiction to rationalize the most blatant move to suppress the vote since Jim Crow. They especially need this lie so the Supreme Court, with its soon-to-be-newly-appointed far right Justice, can uphold the law and permanently codify voter suppression. Heck, if they’re feeling optimistic, they may even try to have automatic registration blocked at the state level because “freedom” or something equally silly.
If they can pull off this “slow moving right-wing coup“, there’s nothing they won’t be able to sell the public on. Maybe people that collect food stamps (in blue states only, of course) shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Maybe single moms should lose their right to vote. Shouldn’t we keep Muslims from voting, too? They could be terrorists. You never know.
Republicans have been talking about going back to the good ol’ days where only landowners could vote for quite some time. They’ve already fully embraced the the idea that elected officials should be able to choose their voters with extreme gerrymandering so why not just go all the way? They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
None of this will happen in a vacuum and it won’t happen all at once. The public needs to be sold on the idea with a lot of propaganda and manufactured evidence. But when you start hearing Trump or the Republicans talking about how they need to fight the scourge of “widespread voter fraud” on a national level, that’s the sign that they have no intention of ever holding another free election. This might be their last chance to ever control all the levers of power and there’s every reason to think they have no intention of letting go.
I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.